Saturday, December 9, 2017

VIDEO: "To be a progressive..." (6 months after the British election)


"It’s exactly six months today, since [Britain] went to the polls. 

As the clock struck ten and we held our breath for the exit poll, few guessed the extraordinary result that was to come. Against all the odds, a Tory landslide had been stopped in its tracks – and a big part of that was down to the Progressive Alliance...

The impact of this is already being felt. We believe we are starting to see the end of austerity, and the beginning of a restoration of our public services, with the lifting of the cap on pay rises for parts of the public sector.

It wasn’t just that the Progressive Alliance got us more progressive MPs – it introduced a different kind of politics that was non-tribal and about something bigger than any single party. Through the Progressive Alliance we found out what we all have in common...


Watching it takes us back to that time, and revives the feelings of pride and gratitude (and relief!) that we hope you share.

Some days the news can make us angry or sad, even fill us with desperation. 

On these moments, it can be helpful to remind ourselves why we are doing what we are doing, and why it matters to continue to believe in, and fight for, a better world. 

Whether you’ve seen it before or not – this five-minute story will give your progressive spirit a boost:

Watch it here (YouTube Link) 
Or here (Facebook link) "

Monday, December 4, 2017

"A ray of hope for Europeans" -- My latest article for Catalonia Today magazine


Ultra-conservatives will always do what their natures demand.

Given any opportunity, they strangle democracy while at the same time claiming that it is democracy that they want to breathe life into.

The horrifying repression in Catalonia is an extreme illustration of this and makes a perfect example of right wing crimes against humanity but it is certainly not the only current case of the most privileged in society making sure they stay in complete control.

Over the border in France, President Emmanuel Macron (the man whose election held off a far-right National Front victory) brought down his first budget.

He handed a huge €7 billion tax cut to the wealthy and slashed social spending which included robbing €1.7 billion from housing aid and the elimination of 120,000 state-funded short-term job contracts.

In Italy, three time Prime Minister and convicted tax fraud billionaire Silvio Berlusconi is gone but the forces he represented are still alive and kicking hard. In Sicily -- as with much of the country -- a rightist alliance has had considerable electoral success blaming their economic problems and high unemployment on immigrants.

Of course it is actually the policy of continuing austerity which allows precious investment to go into speculation rather than job creation that is truly at fault for low living standards there and right across the continent.

But people can see immigrants and refugees every day in the streets where they live and the market economy is harder to point at and blame. All this at a time where public health services are being sold off to private business interests and hospitals are “‘close to collapse’ in Rome, Turin and Naples.”

In the upcoming 2019 European elections there is a new and exciting alternative for voters who have seen the EU parliament as irrelevant to our lives. Understandably, most voters find it difficult to even name a single one of their representatives in Brussels but until now there has been little reason to care.

The arrival of academic and author Yanis Varoufakis’ Diem25 (Democracy in Europe Movement) has given those with a progressive outlook something credible to believe in. Varoufakis has a very personal reason to want to democratise Europe.

The International Monetary Fund and German-backed troika refused to negotiate with him in 2015 when he was the new Greek Finance Minister. Keeping his integrity intact, he resigned from the government and went on to be a cofounder of DiEM25 only one year ago.

In a remarkably short time, under the main slogan of “Transparency for Europe” this ‘pan-European’ activist movement has come up with a persuasive and comprehensive manifesto.

Their basic argument is that unless Europe and its institutions become genuinely democratic then it is doomed to disintegrate.

Partly inspired by the clear historical success of Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal in breaking the Great Depression of the 1930s in the USA, DiEM25 has developed its own highly detailed European New Deal to end the mainstream EU dogma that there is no alternative to more years of severe austerity and secret backroom deals.

Varoufakis and his organisation are also offering concrete proposals that include a Basic Universal Income, refugee justice and crucially, a plan to tame capital and finance. Amongst other major changes, they are in favour of “regulating banking and establishing a new public digital payments platform that ends the monopoly of banks over Europe’s payments.”

At the moment, DiEM25 is in the process of getting votes from its members to decide whether to become a political party that will stand candidates in the 2019 European election.

If the response is a ‘Yes’ then ordinary men and women across Europe will finally have something worthwhile to get behind and support.


[This article was first published in Catalonia Today magazine, December 2017.]

Saturday, December 2, 2017

"The 'tribes' of Europe"

You can always count on the British establishment to investigate how "human beings can be classified like insects," as George Orwell said.

One of their 'royal institutes' has done this, using a survey to divide up 10,000  Europeans from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK.

For what it's worth, the Find Your Tribe exercise found " six political ‘tribes’ across Europe with different views about the EU and its future. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

"Wealth inequality in Spain deepens as poorest get poorer and corporate profits soar..."


"An analysis of tax data in Spain shows how austerity and labour market counter-reforms have slashed the wage share of the country’s wealth to new lows while corporate profits have soared. 


The findings by economist Gabriel Flores published in online newspaper Nueva Tribuna are:


  • Labour income has declined as a proportion of GDP from 50% in 2008 to 46.9% in the first quarter of 2017

  • Corporate profits after taxes, interest and dividends, have more than doubled from 8% of GDP in 2008 to 17.5% today

  • Austerity policies have benefitted high earners but the lowest paid have seen a significant fall in income

  • The 650,000 odd Spaniards on incomes above 60,000 euros annually saw a 10% rise in income, the income of the 6 million on less than 12,000 euros dropped by 8% and the 10 million on 12,000-60,000 euros a year increased by about 6%

  • Despite high GDP growth rates in 2015-2017 (3%-plus), the trend towards greater inequality among the majority relying on wages for their income has been consolidated

  • None of the above data includes the black economy, where low and insecure wages dominate.
Says Flores:
“This strong growth in business profitability, based on the successive reforms of the labour market, has occurred at the expense of lower tax revenues of the state and lower labor income, multiplying social inequalities.
“All the inequality indicators show that, despite the high GDP growth rates between 2015 and 2017, the trend towards greater inequality has been consolidated among the majority that rely on wages.
“To reverse the inequality to pre-crisis levels it is not enough to increase the GDP growth rates; it is necessary to repeal the successive reforms of the labour market approved in recent years and to distance as much as possible the economic policy from the principles of austerity and wage devaluation that have guided government decisions.”
Flores calls for “an inclusive growth model in which the important thing is not the amount of growth but the redistribution and good management of growth to meet the needs of the majority, improve their welfare and secure an equitable distribution of income, restoring the principle of social, territorial and economic cohesion as a guide to economic policy.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

"Evolution's forgotten man" -- My latest article for Catalonia Today magazine


This story begins in the late 18th century with a small boy’s limitless curiosity, at first for staring at his marbles and stones, but soon this grows into a thirst for knowing what lies deep beneath the British countryside around him.

William Smith was unusual for many reasons. As a self-taught young man he traveled a great deal further than most parochial males from farms and this helped to fire his fascination with the natural world. 
Unlike almost all “well-learned” professionals of his day, he also had no distaste about repeatedly climbing down into dark, dangerous coal mines.
Here, he was one of the first to study and report on that black mineral where it actually lay. Of course, it was coal and it was coal miners who were largely responsible for the Industrial Revolution that was then raising Britain’s status to that of an empire-building superpower.
One of the major founding fathers of geology, Smith went on to cover about 10,000 miles a year on foot, on horse and by carriage, cataloguing the locations of all the rock and fossil formations that are to be found in the UK.
Over 14 long years, he also laboriously produced a giant hand-coloured map that showed exactly where the strata of rocks could be found under the earth. Nobody had done anything of the sort before in such a comprehensive and systematic way and two centuries later this sublime masterwork is still accurate and relevant.
World-changing map
In his book titled “The Map that Changed the World” Simon Winchester makes the valuable point that Smith’s “lonely and potentially soul-destroying project” was done, at this time in our history, “in a wholly unknown area of imaginative deduction; there were no teachers, no guidebooks.”
As well as these limitations, Smith could have looked around and noticed that even scientists were convinced, for example, that “mountains grew like trees, organically, upwards and outwards,” all apparently from god’s design.
Smith played a major part in the grinding process where religious and other superstitious beliefs were slowly being cast off (just as we today are [hopefully] living in an era where stupidity related to gender, race or sexual and national prejudices are finally starting to die.)
For most of his career Smith was also an expert in the crucial programme of canal building, but he was in fact snubbed by the main organisation or ‘society’ of his profession as a geologist.
His working-class family background meant that a couple of the ‘perfumed’ snobs who ran and financed what was in truth little more than a gentlemen’s club could steal his ideas and claim them as their own. Largely as a result of this, Smith was to spend time in a debtors prison in London. He was to write with understandable bitterness that “the theory of geology is in the possession of one class of men [and] the practise in another.”
William Smith clearly deserves a much greater and more prominent place in the collective memory of science’s leading men and women. His name merits being up there with the likes of Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein or Richard Dawkins.

[This article was first published in Catalonia Today magazine, November 2017.]

Saturday, November 11, 2017

“Catalonia is a European problem demanding a European solution” – Yanis Varoufakis


.

"On Wednesday, at a press conference in Barcelona, [DiEM25] co-founder Yanis Varoufakis presented his proposal for a European response to the current crisis in Catalonia, and for similar crises in the EU.

Here’s Yanis’ full statement:

The EU’s response to the crisis in Catalonia has been hypocritical (it has intervened in the ‘internal affairs’ of Greece, Ireland, Italy etc.) and logically incoherent (by hiding behind the claim that it is a union of states, it motivates Catalan statehood). 
Moreover, the EU has been responsible for stoking the discontent that led to the current crisis in Catalonia – through austerity and large bankers’ bailouts. The time has come to Europeanise the solution to a problem that is European in both its nature and causes."
See source for a link to download the proposal here.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Colau and Klein debate in Barcelona: "Facing the politics of change and fear"

This Thursday the 9th of November at 7pm the Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau and progressive international author/journalist Naomi Klein will be speaking together.

In a very timely moment for this part of the world in particular, the organisers say that "the starting point of this debate will be the imposition by antidemocratic powers of global policies that challenge our lives, our security and survival..."

The event is open to all the public but seating is limited to 700 people. It will also be broadcast live on their  Facebook Live and the YouTube channel of La Comuna, Escola del Comú. There will also be a simultaneous translation service and translation into sign language.

Location:


Auditori de Cotxeres de Sants
Carrer de Sants, 79
L1 Plaça de Sants; L5 Sants Estació

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

"Macron’s Gift to the Rich"

"Surprise, surprise: Emmanuel Macron's first budget slashes taxes on wealth and guts social spending...

Anyone with lingering doubts about whether the moniker “President of the Rich” fits France’s Emmanuel Macron could safely put them to rest this month, upon publication of his first budget since taking office.
Last week the National Assembly, dominated by Macron’s En Marche party, approved a reform package overwhelmingly weighted toward elite interests. Its €7 billion of tax cuts included reducing France’s wealth tax, long a bête noire for the country’s right wing, by 70 percent and subjecting capital gains tax to a new flat rate of 30 percent.
Tellingly, the Ministry for the Economy and Finance withheld its own research on the impact of the reforms before the vote in the Assembly. But, by Thursday, they had fallen into the possession of the Socialist chair of the Senate Finance Commission and were released. Under the capital gains reforms, France’s wealthiest 100 taxpayers will earn an additional €582,380 per year on average. The top 1,000 will each get a modest €172,220. The rest of the country, on the other hand, can expect little to nothing. Forty-four percent of the total benefits will flow to the top 1 percent.
While the ministry said it could not precisely calculate the financial effects of slashing the wealth tax, Senate Finance Commission estimates placed the gains for the country’s top 100 taxpayers at an average of €1 million. These are people with last names like Peugeot and Rothschild; heads of telecom giants, weapons manufacturers, and luxury brands.
But the tax cuts were only the opening salvo of a budget that forms part of Macron’s sweeping plans to liberalize the French economy and in his own words, “celebrate those who succeed.” After the passage of business-friendly labor reforms and the introduction of plans to rein in unemployment benefits this fall, next up for debate this week are roughly €11.6 billion worth of spending cuts aimed at trimming the country’s social safety net.
The double standard is glaring. Just as the government prepares to fork over millions from state coffers to the ultra-rich, it tells the general population it must tighten the strings on public spending. Its budget will include measures such as a €1.7 billion cut in housing aid as well as the elimination of 120,000 state-funded short-term job contracts. Votes on these measures are slated for the coming weeks, with the Assembly wrapping up its work in late November.
Parliamentarians will begin by tackling the Social Security budget. Here, too, the wealthiest will stand to gain. En Marche deputies have proposed lowering employers’ Social Security taxes from 30 percent to 20 percent on bonus shares offered to employees. That might seem like an arcane measure, but it has symbolic value. The reform previously passed in 2015, championed by then-minister Macron. Legislators repealed it the following year following a public outcry over booming CEO compensation tied to stock options. For Macron’s commanding parliamentary majority, concerns like these appear to be old news.
Opinion polls suggest otherwise. Macron’s popularity has already fallen below that of historically unpopular predecessor François Hollande during the same period of his presidency. An Odoxa poll released after the budget measures found that 88 percent of French people thought they would benefit the richest. Meanwhile, Macron’s approval rating with pollster Ifop continued to drop in October, sliding a further three points to 42 percent.
The president’s approval among investment bankers appears much higher and steadier. The evening after the National Assembly passed his tax cuts, Macron dined with executives from twenty-one of the world’s leading funds in the Elysée Palace’s winter garden. They came away pleased. “Yesterday’s session was beneficial to the investors present,” said a spokesperson for Blackrock, which manages around €5.5 trillion, “and reinforced the view that the opportunities in France are the strongest they’ve been in two decades.”
Meanwhile, meaningful political opposition remains alarmingly limited. En Marche is in firm control of the National Assembly. The right-wing Republican opposition may crib about minor details, but it largely supports the budgetary reforms. The far-right National Front and center-left Socialist Party, both reeling from internal turmoil, formally opposed the tax cuts — but made little impact. As is the case for most parliamentary issues, the most vocal and sustained criticism of the budget came from the left-wing France Insoumise grouping headed by Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
But the Left has not managed to raise mass popular opposition to Macron’s measures and the street remains quiet. Union-backed demonstrations against labor-law reform have drawn hundreds of thousands of protesters but failed to make much impact. And in spite of a one-day, public-sector strike and a well-attended France Insoumise march in Paris in late September, a more unified social movement has yet to emerge.
Still, left-wing opponents of the government may have reason for optimism. On November 16, unions are calling for another round of nationwide protests. Unlike the three previous days of demonstrations against labor-law reform, the upcoming protest counts the support of Force Ouvrière, France’s third-largest labor confederation, and aims to oppose Macron’s economic policy at large."
Read more from source (Jacobin) here.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

"An open letter to the British Consulate in Barcelona" (Re: Catalonia/Spain)

[Below is the text text of a letter shared online through social media...] If you are a British resident in Catalonia and you agree then please copy, paste and sign the document and send it to the British Consulate. Address is:
British Consulate General Barcelona
Avda Diagonal 477-13, 
08036 Barcelona
email: spain.consulate@fco.gov.uk


We the undersigned are British citizens resident in Catalonia. In our time here we have enjoyed peaceful coexistence with Catalans, interacting and integrating to our own different degrees with Catalan society. We now stand aghast at the Spanish government’s response to the recent political developments in Catalonia.


The single most striking episode was the indisputable police brutality of the 1st October, which marked an arrogant, heavy-handed and oppressive armed attack against peaceful Spanish citizens gathering to cast their vote, and to express thus their opinion, in the referendum on Catalan independence. It hardly seems necessary to delve into a description of the events of that day, as graphic images of police charges, attacks with batons, injured people and the peaceful nature of the voters were broadcast around the world. No degree of falsely bemoaning “fake news” by the Spanish authorities can change the truth that most people perceived.


Now the most recent scenario is that of the Spanish government announcing severe measures in the imminent application of Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution. These include the destitution of the democratically elected President of Catalonia and all of his cabinet, usurping the control of public TV, radio and the Catalan police force, imposing new elections (with the foreseeable illegalization of one or more independence parties?), and imposing tighter controls on the education system. Much of this hammer-fisted intervention is in fact illegal in both form and content as gathered under that selfsame constitution. Undoubtedly, this is a very unsatisfactory culmination of a process which has been gathering momentum for years now, and with no attempt at all by the Spanish government to engage in dialogue, and to explore a political solution.


Subsequent, as yet isolated, outbreaks of violence against pro-independence symbols and supporters by extreme and violent right-wing groups is another factor which gives us cause for concern, especially since we have seen no signs at all of the Spanish government making any moves to condemn or shun such attacks. Above all, however, there is the recent incarceration of two civil rights activists guilty only of promoting peaceful protests. This holding of political prisoners is an abomination, and we do not understand why it has not been censured by European governments and institutions in the strongest of terms. We believe that attempting to cloak events with a mantle of falsehoods, using immoral, illegitimate and illegal measures of coercion and ugly brute force are in fact the trademarks of an authoritarian state, and have no place in a Western democracy.


The Spanish Constitution is not sculpted in stone, and neither should it be written in blood. Laws are drawn up to impose restraints in order to maintain a functioning society; when such laws fail in this objective and become a straitjacket wielded by a privileged few to keep society from developing and pursuing legitimate desires then, in democratic terms, those laws have failed and the time has come to modify or eradicate them.


We believe that it is within the British Consulate’s scope and interests, as well as a moral duty, to convey the content of this letter and its spirit of extreme disapproval of the Spanish government’s actions in the most insistent and strongest terms possible to the highest representatives of the Spanish Government and to the British Embassy in Madrid.


Signed,

Saturday, October 21, 2017

"Getting Orwell wrong" -- My latest opinion column for Catalonia Today magazine

[Photo of  Julian Barnes © Alan Edwards]

In the New York Review of Books not long ago, the well-known British author Julian Barnes ran his eye over some compilations of George Orwell’s work. Thinking about the school where a young Orwell was sent to live and learn, Barnes decides:
“You have to feel a little sorry for Mr. and Mrs. Vaughan Wilkes, or “Sambo” and “Flip” as they were known to their [students]. During the first decades of the twentieth century, they ran St. Cyprian’s, a preparatory school in Eastbourne, on the south coast of England. It was no worse than many other such establishments: the food was bad, the building underheated, physical punishment the norm… [The children’s] daily morale was dependent on whether a boy was in or out of favour with Flip.”
So Barnes would have us keep our sympathy for the pair of sadists who ran Orwell’s primary school like a hideous boot camp and he justifies their cruelty by maintaining that other schools were much the same. He expresses no feelings at all for the unfortunate people that Orwell spent time writing about in his essays ‘How The Poor Die’ or ‘The Spike’ (destitute tramps).
Just as importantly though, according to Barnes (as an adult), Orwell was a “moralist and a puritan”. But a single quick read of Orwell’s novel “1984” would show you that Orwell was well-versed in matters of the flesh and desire. The sexual relationship between the main character Winston and his lover Julia makes it abundantly clear that Orwell was no puritan. (Apparently, away from his writing Orwell was somewhat of a lech, whose methods of seduction occasionally included the sudden kiss and grope technique).
As far as Orwell being a moralist, of course Barnes is right. I have read all of Orwell’s non-fiction (much of it several times) and can see that there is hardly a sentence that does not have a moral aspect to it.
But Barnes is using the word moralist as uncomplimentary in his book review. The question must be whether someone’s morals are humanitarian and progressive morals, not whether they have any at all. An absence of morals or ethics is a vacuum of beliefs about how we treat each other.
He also correctly criticises Orwell for being wrong about the future, and Orwell was certainly mistaken about some aspects of the “1984 Orwellian world”. For example, the state is shrivelling rather than being the monster machine Orwell predicted. That function has been assumed by international capitalism rather than international government.
Julian Barnes also says that Orwell “is deeply untheoretical and wary of general conclusions that do not come from specific experiences.” But of course a thought is an experience and when it is repeated then built on it can become un-singular enough to produce theories.
I think Orwell was profoundly theoretical, in fact. He simply did an excellent job of disguising it because he did not trust in ideas alone. A good idea can quickly become a bad one when it bumps up against the physical world and human nature. Communism is an example of this, as he discovered.
I think it would be more accurate to say that Orwell was certainly suspicious of those who did not ’love the soil’ as he did. He had a sensible distaste of pretence, pomposity and the grandiose. In short, he disliked intellectuals as a species but used his intellect to point out his own shortcomings as well as those of others.
Barnes is wrong to say that Orwell was “deeply untheoretical” just because Orwell’s writing did not use obviously theoretical language. Underneath the plain phrases and continual drawing from his experiences, Orwell’s work was bursting with theories about the human condition.
It’s a pity that Barnes has seemingly missed that.

[This article was first published in Catalonia Today magazine, October 2017.]

Friday, October 13, 2017

"Why Europe Needs a New Deal, Not a Breakup"

[Illustration by Curt Merlo.]

"The EU is facing a crisis of legitimacy—but retreating to the nation-state will only benefit the far right.




The American New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt’s first two terms combined the goals of financial stabilization, reconstruction, conservation, and employment—jobs for the jobless; public works; power systems and new industries, especially in the South; soil conservation and reforestation to battle the Dust Bowl; and a potent mix of regulations and insurance to assert public power over high finance.
Europe today needs all of these. Its overgrown banks, haunted by the specter of insolvency, are pushing households into foreclosures and evictions across the continent, and at an accelerating scale in the most depressed countries. 
States are bankrupt and will only become more so as the European Central Bank begins to tighten under pressure from German savers crushed by negative interest rates. 
Like America 80 years ago, Europe has a vast periphery. In its South, there is a semi-permanent Great Depression, whereas in the East there is great need for new and renewed industries, transport networks, housing, and social investments. Above all, Europeans need jobs.
Unlike the United States in the 1930s, Europe is also facing the menace of disintegration, as the absence of a democratic federal system has spawned a crisis of legitimacy. 
Paralysis in the face of deindustrialization and chronic unemployment is breeding a toxic politics throughout Europe, with a postmodern form of fascism threatening some countries and a sense of hopelessness elsewhere. 
Europe has not yet suffered ecological calamities comparable to those in the past few weeks in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico; but they are coming, in the form of droughts, rising sea levels, and (most immediately) unstoppable waves of refugees from conflict and climate change in the Middle East and Africa.
The Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25) has therefore proposed a European New Deal (END), inspired by FDR but designed for European conditions. 
Chief among these is the sad fact that the European Union is a weak and limited thing—a confederacy, more or less. The crisis has made it virtually impossible even to discuss the creation of a US-style federation in Europe, with full powers to budget and mobilize for the emergencies at hand. 
European polities are so alienated by the authoritarian incompetence of the current leadership—exemplified by the crushing of the Greek government in 2015 and the heavy-handed approach of the European Commission to Brexit—that an increase in central powers (“more Europe,” as they say) would almost certainly meet heavy resistance. 
So it is necessary to work within existing charters and treaties to bring about stabilization by means of a European New Deal before hope is restored and the creation of new, democratic, federal, pan-European institutions—even a proper European Constitution—can be discussed sensibly and with cool heads.
To this END, we have proposed the following programs for all European countries, independent of whether they are in the European Union or the eurozone..."
Read more from source at The Nation here.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

"I Am Obliged to Reconsider My Support for the European Union"

Former diplomat Craig Murray makes a strong argument after seeing the Spanish state's police violence against voters at last weekends Catalan referendum.

"To my own astonishment, and after a full 36 hours of hard thinking to try and escape this conclusion, I am in intellectual honesty obliged to reconsider my lifelong support for the European Union, due to the unqualified backing of the EU Commission for the Spanish Government’s dreadful repression in Catalonia.

This is very difficult for me. I still much favour open immigration policy, and the majority of Brexiteers are motivated at base by racist anti-immigrant sentiment. Certainly many Brexiteers share in the right wing support for Rajoy’s actions, across Europe. I have been simply stunned by the willingness of right wingers across the internet, including on this blog, to justify the violence of the Spanish state on “law and order” grounds...
But not all who oppose the EU are right wing. There are others who oppose the EU on the grounds that it is simply another instrument of power of the global 1% and an enforcer of neo-liberalism. I had opposed this idea on the grounds it was confusing the policies of current EU states with the institution itself, that it ignored the EU’s strong guarantees of human rights, and its commitment to workers’ rights and consumer protection.
I have to admit today that I was wrong, and in fact the EU does indeed function to maintain the global political elite, and cares nothing for the people.
The Lisbon Treaty specifically incorporated the European Charter of Fundamental Rights into basic European Union law."

Read more from source here.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Catalans vote (while Schäuble-ism lives on)


Despite a heavy police presence and some shocking violence from the Spanish forces Catalonia's citizens voted today to at least try to express their wishes on the question of independence.

Meanwhile, over in Germany, as DiEM25 leader Yanis Varoufakis points out, the same bunch of economic masters (who have roundly ignored the growing acts of repression in Catalonia) are still in charge...even though their main man Wolfgang Schäuble has left the finance post.

Will there now be a clear response to the the Spanish government's anti-democratic tactics from Europe's high and mighty?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

"We will vote"

  
 Above is  a Catalan cartoon that shows how the Spanish media's coverage is likely to continue to be in the coming week before the Catalan independence referendum on October 1. 

Shown on the left is a crowd of peaceful protesters holding signs that say "We will vote" while on the right the Spanish press focuses on a single act of destruction.

I would suggest that it is not only Spain's mainstream media that makes this mistake.

(Found via http://www.valeriecollinswriter.com/)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

How "the crisis" overpowers national borders


[Photo: © CES - Centro de Estudos Sociais ]
  


















" 'This is a crisis caused by deregulated financial capital that speculates on the misery of the people. The more countries go bankrupt, the richer this system gets...'

The world today is facing a deep crisis. Yet at the same time, the neo liberal growth model is still presented as the only possible option. The Portuguese sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos exposes the myth and made it his life’s mission to build an epistemology of alternatives."

Read more in English from source here.